(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Senator Mitch McConnell on October 2, 2018 SCENE: Press conference at Ford’s Theater TIME: Shortly after 7 a.m. on the morning of April 15, 1865. President Lincoln lies dying in a house across the street. Senators Mitch McConnell and Charles Grassley walk to the podium amid shouted questions from the assembled reporters. GRASSLEY: [ pounding gavel on the podium ] Quiet! Silence! [ The reporters quiet down. ] My distinguished colleague Senator McConnell has a prepared statement. Mitch? MCCONNELL: I thank my distinguished colleague. We’ve just received the report that we authorized from the army officers and Washington police offers into the president’s ailment, and we’ll distribute it now to you. [ Aides pass out papers to the reporters. ] As the report makes clear— VARIOUS REPORTERS: [ shouting ] Where’s the rest of it?! This is all? It’s just one page long! MCCONNELL: … As it makes clear, this was the most thorough, exhaustive report of its kind we’ve...
Assume the worst: Let’s posit that within a week, despite the evidence of his abuses when young, his temperament when middle-aged, and his unyieldingly troglodytic beliefs at all times, Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. That, of course, would create the first hard-right majority on the Court since 1937—a majority dead-set against modernity, equal rights for women and minorities, and any rights at all for workers. What to do then?
There would still remain one perfectly legal and valid exit ramp from this lowdown circle of hell. In the increasingly likely event that the Democrats take the House this November, the new Democratic majority on the House Judiciary Committee could revisit Kavanaugh’s testimony last week for evidence of deception. Indeed, the senior Democrat on that committee, New Yorker Jerry Nadler—as smart and progressive a congressman as the Democrats have—has already indicated the committee, which he’d be chairing, would do just that.
There is, of course, a kind of testimonial misleading by Court nominees that is standard, legal and all but expected. When asked if they’ll approach issues with an open mind, if their opinions will be empirically based and free from the ideology they’ve adhered to throughout their careers, all judicial nominees swear that that will indeed be how they guide themselves, though that is obviously hardly ever the case. As witnesses, they’re all umpires calling balls and strikes. Once on the bench, however, they put that strike zone on either the left or right side of the plate. They invariably omit that part—where they put the strike zone—from their testimony. That’s normal; that’s not an offense.
But denying the existence of events that actually happened in one’s testimony is another matter altogether. A Democratic House Judiciary Committee would surely delve into that early next year, and if they concluded that in fact Kavanaugh lied to their Senate counterparts during his testimony, they’d have grounds for voting out an impeachment resolution, which a Democratic House would almost surely pass. It’s almost impossible to envision the Senate convicting Kavanaugh—it requires a two-thirds vote, which is to say, Republican support, and given that party’s commitment to anti-empiricism, all evidence will become beside the point—but a House-enacted resolution to impeach would in itself throw the Court into crisis.
First, additional revelations from a House investigation might compel Kavanaugh to resign. Second, were he to stay on the court, the Senate would have to hold a trial (unless, if the Republicans still control the Senate, they refuse to, which would lead to a constitutional impasse that would doubtless have to be decided by, yep, the Supreme Court). Third, whether Kavanaugh could continue to hear and rule on cases while all this was proceeding would be hotly disputed and, again, a matter that the Court would have to decide since there would be no one else who could decide it. Fourth, if after all this Kavanaugh remains on the Court, the legitimacy of its rulings would be questioned as never before in our history, laying the groundwork for the addition of at least two justices to the current nine should the Democrats control the White House and Congress following the 2020 election.
At all events, worse comes to worst, there’s still a Plan B.
(Melina Mara/The Washington Post via AP, Pool) Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on September 27, 2018 S ince, as I write this, three swing-vote senators on the Brett Kavanaugh nomination—Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin—have all called for an FBI investigation of the allegations against the Supreme Court nominee, I’m guessing the investigation will go forward. Absent such an investigation, it’s by no means clear the Republicans have the votes to confirm. That said, what will the scope of the investigation be? Will it concern only Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s charges in the narrowest sense, and therefore come back saying there’s no third-party confirmation for them? Will it talk to the other people in the house where the attempted rape happened that night? Will it go into such contextual matters as whether Kavanaugh was a heavy drinker, and abusive and out of control when drunk? Whether it...
On Thursday, President Trump sent a letter to Congress making clear he wants to freeze federal employees’ pay for 2019. Here’s what his letter said:
Under current law, locality pay increases averaging 25.70 percent, costing $25 billion, would go into effect in January 2019, in addition to a 2.1 percent across-the-board increase for the base General Schedule. We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases.
How prudent that our president wants to maintain a fiscally sustainable course. Imagine, a budget increase costing $25 billion! Of course, that pales somewhat when compared with the $1.8 trillion tax cut Trump and the Republicans enacted late last year, but then that was largely directed to the wealthiest Americans, many of whom are now recycling those funds productively by donating a share of them to Republicans’ election campaigns, and since Republicans are fiscally prudent, the tax cut, though at first glance blowing a hole in the budget 72 times larger than the amount of the raise to federal employees that Trump cites in his letter, was actually an exercise in fiscal prudence.
(AP Photo/Michael Boyer) Chicago police attempt to disperse demonstrators outside the Democratic National Convention headquarters in Chicago on August 29, 1968. F ollowers of this column may have hoped that I had sufficient self-control not to inflict yet another of the endless 50th anniversary remembrances of 1968 on unsuspecting readers. You hoped wrong. Here goes: Fifty years ago this week, on the final night of the cataclysmic Democratic Convention that left the New Deal order permanently shattered, I was sitting glumly in a hallway on the 15th floor of the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago—the headquarters hotel for the convention, the hotel where the staff of Eugene McCarthy’s campaign was domiciled, the hotel that looked down on what was left of Grant Park after the police had run amok there for the past two evenings. I had plenty of glum company. This floor (I remember it as the 15th, but Jamie Galbraith insists it was the 14th) was the one for junior staff, among whom, at age 18...